Sunday, July 19

Something great

A few months ago, I got a second-hand laptop to use in Bombay. Though a little old, it came with amazing tech specs, including i7, RAM and loads of space. In terms of the OS, I wanted at least Windows 7, but it came with XP, which was a bit inconvenient. However, that tech cloud did bring a silver lining because it gave me an excuse to try something I've been wanting to for ages, that is, switch to a Linux-based OS.

Open to experimenting though I may be, I did not want to completely let go of Windows, so I configured a dual-boot with XP and Ubuntu OS. There are enough and more excellent Youtube videos to help do this and it did not take me long. Here are a few quick remarks on my experiences.

Ubuntu is free, amazingly light on system resources and I don't have to worry about installing anti-virus software. The Ubuntu help community is excellent and usually answers every question one could have. The layout is not terribly different from Windows and it will take you little time to get used to navigating through it.

In terms of software, I found everything needed at the Software Centre, another handy-dandy feature. It works like an App Store and has practically everything you'd need. Advanced users can tinker with various features using the Terminal, and codes and instructions available online on the forums. Firefox is the default web browser, which is my preferred choice anyway. The Linux version of Chrome, called Chromium is available for free but needs to be installed.

For those who need iTunes and MS Office Suite, the only solution is to dual-boot. The free Libre Office Suite that comes with Ubuntu is based on the Open Office Suite and is perfectly fine if, like me, you largely use only MS Word. The dual-boot is necessary for advanced users of Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook as you'll find Libre Office and Thunderbird inadequate for your work. Sadly, there is also no Linux version of iTunes and I have trawled through the forums for an adequate solution and am yet to see one which has mass consensus.

And then we come to music play, perhaps the raison d'ĂȘtre of this post. People of a certain age will understand my continued amazement and gratefulness at hard-disk sizes of today. Now we transfer any amount of music from friends without a second thought.10 years ago, we'd be agonising over what to delete before we added new music. In a way, our music folders were pruned for efficient listening, versus now, when I know there's music on my PC I haven't heard in years. Anyway, old habits die hard and I dutifully transferred a load of music onto the laptop. And then discovered Guayadeque Music Player.

An Ubuntu-only software, it comes with 4000+ internet music stations from across the world. And that ladies and gents, has effectively killed regular music for me. Unless there's no internet (a very infrequent thing), I don't need to access my regular music; instead I now frequently listen to stuff I'd never have come across and can change genres at will. Regular tech-savvy folk may be aghast at the perceived value reduction of Linux here, but hey, it works for me.

So, if you have an old laptop that's gathering dust, I encourage you to wipe everything off it and install Ubuntu and give you computer a new lease of life. You really have nothing to lose and could actually have all to gain. In a way, it's like Lego for adults; you could tinker around, keep your noggin active and find that you like it.

Update: You can use MS Office Suite in Ubuntu with Wine. What more can you ask for? Check it out here.

Song for the moment: Love in Spain - Ypey